Faulty Jeep costs couple nearly $50K
Keith Armstrong says he will never buy another Jeep and implores friends to do the same after an 11-month battle drove him "crazy" and left him nearly $50,000 out of pocket.
In November, the pensioner and his wife Anne were enjoying a trip to South Australia when their Grand Cherokee broke down and left them stranded.
The Victorians had decided to drive up Mount Lofty to enjoy the view of Adelaide when the SUV they had bought brand new for $52,000 about four years earlier began billowing black smoke.
The obediently serviced and maintained Grand Cherokee Laredo, which had just 85,000km on the clock, was towed to a Jeep dealership while the Armstrongs were stuck in a caravan park in the city's west for a week.
A specialist told Mr Armstrong the turbo charger had blown due to using unleaded fuel in the diesel engine, something he vehemently denies.
"They quoted me initially $24,000 to fix it; that scared the pants off us," he told news.com.au.
At a dead end, the couple towed the once-loved four-wheel drive back to Victoria along with their caravan.
When home, they sought the help of an expert based on the advice of the Jeep manufacturer, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), but the result was far worse.
"They had decided there was nothing wrong with the turbo charger, it was working fine and they had the engine running," Mr Armstrong said.
"But the DPF (diesel particulate filter) and everything else was gone so I authorised them to replace those and that was with about $2500 worth of spare parts.
"When they put those in and the car started up again, it was still spewing oil all over the place."
After an article last month about a young family in Newcastle who claimed their Grand Cherokee failed them, news.com.au has been contacted by dozens of Australians claiming to have similar issues with Jeeps.
For Mr Armstrong, months and months went on until he was eventually told the engine was gone and needed to be replaced "at the nice price of nearly $30,000".
"At this point I had spent over $5500 to have these new parts put in and investigations in SA as well as the towing," Mr Armstrong said.
"There was no way I was going to pay $30,000."
That was the start of an 11-month battle where Keith said he felt messed around and the issues dragged on and on.
Out of desperation, he said he wrote to FCA a couple of times but they referred the issue back to the local dealership.
After quotes from a number of scrapyards to buy the Grand Cherokee for as little as $1000, the Armstrongs cut their losses and sold it to a specialist who repairs faulty Jeeps.
It was sold for $8000. But with the money spent at the mechanics, the Armstrongs said they lost about $49,500 on the investment.
"We were totally stressed out and going no where so we decided to take their offer," Keith told news.com.au.
"There is no good will from Jeep, they are just not interested … They tried to tell me I put petrol in but there was no way that was the case. I had been filling it with diesel for four-and-a-half years, so there was no way I was going to put unleaded petrol in it.
"It's been a really stressful 11 months, it's really been driving us crazy.
"I wouldn't buy another one and I wouldn't recommend them to anybody after the way we've been treated."
In a response to news.com.au, FCA Australia denied its vehicles had any issue related to diesel engine failure.
"Fuel injectors and destroyed engines are not a known issue with Jeep Grand Cherokee in Australia or with any other Jeep vehicles," a spokesperson said.
The manufacturer maintains the issue was caused by the vehicle being filled up with the wrong fuel.
"Following a review of the dealer's diagnosis records over the past year of Mr Armstrong's vehicle, FCA Australia believes the fundamental concern was fuel contamination," the spokesperson told news.com.au.
"However, as FCA Australia was not given an opportunity to inspect and subsequently diagnose the vehicle, coupled with the fact that Mr Armstrong no longer owns the vehicle, a definitive diagnosis cannot be determined.
"We are disappointed to hear that Mr Armstrong was not satisfied with the communication from FCA Australia.
"On the occasions when Mr Armstrong contacted FCA Australia, the customer care team managed the requests, in what we believe was in a timely manner.
"The customer care team understood that Mr Armstrong's requests had been satisfied as he did not express concerns or discontent, nor was there any further communication from him.
"FCA Australia takes customer satisfaction seriously and a positive customer experience is what we strive to provide on every occasion."